A reader writes:
I am 24, 5’9″ and currently 240lbs. I gained a bit of weight over the years between the age of 17 (where I was 150lbs) and 22, but my highest was only ever around 185lbs, which is not TOO bad for my height. Despite this I hated the weight gain, it made me deeply depressed and set me up on a binge/purge cycle I am still struggling to break. Incidentally at 170lbs a nurse told me my bc pill wouldn’t work as I was too overweight! At that weight my bmi was just inside the high end of normal.
Anyway, approximately 2 years ago now I gained 55lbs in just 10 weeks. It was ridiculously sudden. Just like that none of my clothes fit etc. Shortly afterwards I was diagnosed with a condition called idiopathic intracranial hypertension – basically high pressure around the brain. Idiopathic means ‘of unknown causes’. It is related to being overweight and there is some evidence of it being linked to hormones but basically it’s not very well understood.
I had to have a procedure that required me to lay flat for awhile afterwards. I had a single pillow. My neurologist came into the ward after the procedure (I was on my own and a bit tearful as it is not a nice procedure). He walked up, jerked the pillow out from under my head and said, I quote, “this is all because of your weight”. Then he left. At no point did he consider it odd I had gained weight so quickly for no reason.
Later I saw another neurologist who asked about my weight. Specifically, he said “how did you gain so much weight”. I responded with some ideas I had about stress levels at the time but that overall I wasn’t sure why it had been so rapid. He cut me off mid sentence and said “are you telling me it’s not just because you don’t eat too much”, then he scoffed and sent me on my way.
Now I am undergoing tests for pcos as I have acne, hair loss, low vitamin D, skin tags. I get results from bloods tomorrow. But my GP said “can you just *try* to lose weight?”. I broke down, told her that it’s all I ever think about, every waking hour, I am miserable and doing everything I can. She nodded sympathetically and told me to keep trying…
I don’t understand?! Why do none of them think it’s weird that I gained so much so quickly and now am presenting with potentially two hormone related illnesses? There is no curiosity. They just look at me like I eat all the cake.
I also had 5 months of a personal trainer, nutrition and exercise. I paid by credit card. I followed it to the letter. I lost 6 lbs. Again, no Dr seems to think that’s odd. They just assume I am lying, basically. It makes me feel so small.